“I thought it was a fun activity about what you’re looking for in someone you’d like to date and how do you describe yourself,” said Piper, who is from Buffalo but has often moved to DC for her old. career. as a diplomat. “I would like to meet someone who adds to my already busy and enjoyable life. For me, I think that’s kind of a high bar, but not impossible.
Her date, Chris, celebrated his 60th birthday this year at a Paul McCartney concert with his two adult children. Although he grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and lived in DC and New York for a bit during the early days of his law career, Chris spent most of his life in the Midwest. The divorcee returned to the region at the end of 2019.
“I got divorced in 2016 and have had a few more or less long-term relationships since then,” he told me. Chris also shared that he’s been on and off online dating sites with mixed results. He is a regular reader of The Washington Post, but only came across Date Lab in January.
On a whim he decided to apply, but when we initially reached out to match him, Chris had just started dating someone who had therefore declined. “Then my situation changed and I reached out,” he said. Her ideal match is someone who is smart, attractive, empathetic, physically fit, has a sense of humor and can laugh at herself.
On the day of the date, Piper put on a dress she had recently bought (not specifically for this date) and made it for her daughter, who took photos before the date. Piper took an Uber, but traffic made her realize she’d be late, so she hopped off and walked to Ala’s restaurant near Dupont Circle.
It left her confused, she said, but not so much that she didn’t notice Chris’ smile when she first saw him. “He had a nice smile. … He had a really nice smile,” she said. While they were taking pictures for the column, Piper broke the ice by mentioning that her daughter took pictures of her before he left. “I showed him some of the silly pictures and when we sat down at the table he said, ‘So you have a daughter?’ and that was the start of the conversation.
Before the evening started, Chris put on a button down shirt and opened up to all the possibilities. “If you meet someone [online] and you correspond with them and you meet them in person, I always try to make sure I remember some of the things they said to me,” he said. “There was really no way to prepare for this. You meet someone you literally know nothing about.
Her first impression of Piper? “I thought she was adorable, but we were taking pictures very quickly,” he explained. “I think for me the first impression was more when we sat down and got to know each other. We covered a lot of ground and it was very easy.
Their conversation spanned from their dogs — Piper has three, Chris has two — to their families of origin to their careers and NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe. “We talked a very long time before even looking at the menus, so the waitress very kindly suggested an appetizer, and then we probably talked another 20 to 30 minutes before looking at the menu,” Piper said.
They continued to talk while sharing spicy eggplant with flatbread, red snapper, roasted cauliflower and wine. Nearly four hours after meeting, the date ended naturally as they both had to go home to take care of their dogs. Chris hugged Piper and they exchanged numbers.
“He was very approachable,” Piper said. “I think what struck me was that after the awkwardness of the photographs, I felt very comfortable with him.” Chris said we did a “remarkable job” matching him up: “It was just a lovely dinner. I just thought we were very well connected.
They went on two more dates and continue to get to know each other.
Tanya Ballard Brown is the editor of Government Executive and a comedian.
Editor’s Note: Due to privacy and security issuesDate Lab allows participants to be identified by their first names only.
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